Findouters Challenge: Book 8. Now this was the real thing―a “proper” complicated mystery, plenty of food, disguises galore, and a battle of wits with Mr Goon but no unnecessary baiting or tricks. The findouters are at home for the summer holidays again but with over half the holiday over and no mystery to solve, they are bored to say the least. Mr Goon is away from the village as well and this time it is PC Tonks on duty, not Pippin like last time, so no chance to play any tricks either. When Inspector Jenks comes to Peterswood one day to watch his goddaughter, Hilary, ride in the gymkhana, with him comes a baffling mystery. While he and the children who decide to take a picnic and join him are watching Hilary ride, Hilary’s home Norton House has been burgled and the only clues they have are huge footprints and glove prints to match. When another robbery takes place at Larry and Daisy’s neighbours’, with the same clues the case only gets more complicated. Meanwhile Goon comes back and gets on the case. He has just completed a refresher course and is all set to try his hand at disguises. So begins a battle of wits against the findouters and a battle of disguises against Fatty, both Goon and Fatty using disguises to follow up on clues and solve the mystery. But yet again, it is the findouters who come out victorious at the end but not before the wily burglar gets the better of them even managing to rob Fatty himself.
This was a really enjoyable instalment in the series. The mystery itself was great fun―one I would class in the “creative” category as far as the solution goes. I enjoyed Fatty and Mr Goon’s disguises (the children for the most part see through Goon’s disguises―again because of Bets’ observation) and how they used them to follow up on pretty much the same leads. The children have their fun in this one, pulling Mr Goon’s leg a little, certainly but there was none of the pointless tricks or “nastiness” that came across on the children’s part in the previous two books. On the foodmeter this one rates fairly high as well with lots of cakes, meringues, eclairs, and sandwiches among other things on the menu, besides plenty of icecream and lemonade as well. Surprisingly in this one it is Pip rather than Bets who stumbles onto the answer at the end, which Fatty interprets to solve the case. This is certainly among my favourites so far!